On the eve of Blinken’s Middle East tour, Israel carried out drone strikes on an Iranian factory. The attack comes amid growing tensions over Iran’s nuclear program and its continued supply of weapons to Russia, Wall Street Journal reported, citing U.S. officials.
Citing unnamed U.S. officials, the Wall Street Journal reported that the target was a munitions factory and the attack was carried out by small Israeli quadcopters (Israel has not officially claimed responsibility for the strikes).
It is unclear if the munitions factory itself was the target of the attack, as it is located next to an Iran Space Research Center site, which has been sanctioned by the U.S. for its alleged work on ballistic missiles, the report added.
In a statement on Sunday, the Iranian Defense Ministry said a factory in the city of Isfahan was targeted by three drones but claimed that the attack was “unsuccessful.”
Two of the three drones “were caught in traps” and a third one was shot down by air defense inside the factory, resulting in only “minor damage” on the facility’s roof and no casualties, the ministry added.
Israeli media outlets and journalists citing official sources within the country, however, reported that the strikes successfully targeted four different areas of a building linked to Iran’s missile program.
The strikes come on the eve of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s Middle East tour, which includes visits to Egypt, Israel and the occupied West Bank territory.
Dismissing the attack as a “cowardly” attempt to destabilize the country, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said: “Such actions will not impact our experts’ determination to progress in our peaceful nuclear work.”
The city of Isafan is located less than 100 miles from Natanz, which is home to a major Iranian nuclear facility. The Biden Administration’s efforts to resurrect a deal to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon—after the previous agreement was scrapped by the Trump Administration—have failed to make any progress.
Israel, however, has warned that it will use military force to halt Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, and the Israeli Defense Forces has been linked to strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities and scientists in the past.
The strike on Iran is the first one carried out by Israel by the country’s new far-right ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Tehran has also drawn international scorn for supplying weapons including kamikaze drones to the Russian military in support of its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.